The Nigerian Navy has intercepted a boat conveying over 250 bags of smuggled foreign rice in Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom, the Uyo state capital.
As stated, the bags of rice were seized from smugglers on June 15, during routine patrol operations by the Forward Operating Base (FOB), Ibaka, Mbo LGA of Akwa Ibom.
The Commanding Officer, FOB, Navy Capt. Suleiman Abdullahi, who made this known to newsmen yesterday, in Ibaka, hinted that the rice smugglers on sighting the patrol team abandoned the boat and fled.
Abdullahi stated that the rice smugglers who abandoned their vessel and fled for fear of arrest proved to the officers on duty that they were into illegal exercise.
While handing over the contraband rice to the Nigeria Customs Service, Abdullahi emphasized that the law enforcement agency would not relent in eradicating illegalities on waterways across Akwa Ibom.
“What you are witnessing here today is the handover of 251 bags of rice suspected to have been smuggled into the Nigerian maritime border.
“By the directive of the Flag Officer, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Adm. Sanusi Ibrahim, we have zero tolerance for smuggling. By the directive, we have carried out intensive patrol and on June 15, 2021, we seized one wooden boat and 251 bags of smuggled rice.
“On sighting the patrol team, the smugglers abandoned the rice inside the boat and flee to escape arrest. This is an indication of their awareness of the crime perpetrated by these suspects for them to have abandoned their boat and flee,” Abdullahi said.
The commanding officer warned smugglers to relocate out of the Nigerian maritime borders, stressing that it would not be business as usual for them. He urged them to desist from smuggling and other illegal businesses, but they should engage in legitimate endeavours.
“I will like to use this opportunity to warn those maritime criminals that it is not going to be business as usual. “That they should desist from their criminal ways and engage in genuine business, otherwise the long arm of the law will catch up on them,” he said.
Receiving the 251 bags of rice on behalf of the Nigerian Customs Service, the Comptroller of Customs, Sector 1, Port Harcourt, Shehu Abubakar, said the NCS would do everything possible to stop smuggling in the country.
Abubakar, who was represented by the Superintendent of Customs, Border Drill Patrol Team, Oron Axis, Mustapha Ahmed, warned smugglers to desist from the illegal trade. He said that the NCS would continue to checkmate all economic sabotage in the country.